LATE RALLY GIVES PIRATES CHAMPIONSHIP

The Utah Pirates, 35+ Central Division Champs

by Alejandro Rodriguez

Utah Pirates 6, St. Louis Tigers 5

Tempe Diablo Stadium, Nov. 5, 2011 – Wes Kroon scored on Ray Clinton’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning, then turned a rally killing double play in the ninth as the Utah Pirates beat the St. Louis Tigers 6-5 for the title.

Clinton struck out Jay Davis for the final out of the game.

“Anytime you win, it’s a great feeling, especially the last game which wins you the championship, this is my first year playing with these guys, my seventh overall playing in the league and it never gets old,” Clinton said. “We’ve got a great group of guys here, we all win as a team with all 17 guys contributing, it makes it that much more special.” he said.

Clinton allowed five hits, and fanned four, in the 6-5 win and also went 1-for-2 at the plate with the game winning sacrifice fly. For his efforts, Clinton was named the Tournament MVP.

The Pirates got out quickly as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings. The Tigers then responded with four runs in the top of the fourth innings to take a 4-3 lead. The Pirates then scored twice in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI-single from Cale Shepherd and a sacrifice fly by Kroon to re-take the lead 5-4.

In the top of the sixth, Grant led off with a single for the Tigers and then came around to score on an RBI-double by Davis to tie the game at 5.

The Pirates then took the lead in the bottom of the eighth when Jason Jarvis led off with a single, then was forced at second base on a fielder’s choice by Kroon. Kroon then moved to third on a single by Dave Eaton. Kroon then came home to score on Clinton’s fly ball to give the Pirates the lead.

For the Pirates, Shepherd went 3-for-3 with two doubles.

Manager Randy Miles was especially proud of his team’s effort this year at winning the championship against tougher competition.

“I’ve been playing in these tournaments for 12 years and this was by far a tougher road than last year’s championship just because the competition was so much tougher.” Miles said.

“These tournaments are a lot of fun, it’s a great vacation for a lot of us. We get to play baseball, a game we love in great weather, you can’t beat it.” He added.

St. Louis manager Gary Gerkens was disappointed in losing the championship game but still credited his team for not giving up.

“We gave them a couple runs early, but I’m proud of the way we battled back and gave them a tough game.” Gerkens said.

Gerkens is looking forward to making a return trip next year.

“We’ve got some unfinished business, so hopefully it can all work out and we can be back here in this same game next year, this time hopefully the result is a different one.” Gerkens said.

For the Tigers, Grant went 1 for 2 with two walks, an RBI and a stolen base and Davis went 1-for-4 with two RBIs.

2011 35+ Central – Division 1 Standings

2011 35+ Central – Division 2 Standings